2018 State of the Union: Time to check in

On September 12 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addressed the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg with his yearly State of the Union address to assess ‘how far we’ve come’.

Delivering a ‘Europe which protects’ should mean not only reinforced security and defence, which Juncker stressed repeatedly, but also explicitly refer to social security standards and core labour rights for all. Indeed, little was said about further plans to develop a social dimension in the EU. At least Juncker committed to fair(er) taxation and hence a move towards more equal societies, defending a legislative proposal against some skeptical Member State governments “to make internet giants pay taxes where they create their profits.” Fighting tax evasion and social dumping have been for long on CESI’s agenda.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “With the next European elections coming up in 2019, next year will be a decisive one for Europe. The driving forces of the Union need to stick together, protect Europe’s legacy of liberal democracy and personal rights and freedoms and highlight the added values that the EU can be for citizens.

Key areas where Europe can deliver tangible results for citizens are in the fields of labour rights, access to social protection and fair corporate and finance taxation.” According to the Secretary General, Europe can only be called ‘social’ when workers’ rights are respected, employment is stable, secure and predictable for all, and excessive inequalities and poverty are kept at bay.

Commission President Juncker also highlighted the intention of the European Commission to stop clock-changing. Klaus Heeger welcomed this move, yet highlighted: “As always, the devil will lie in the details. Since it could be up to the member states to decide whether they would like to stick either to summer or to winter time, many discussions at EU and national levels are still to come. It is also questionable if this initiative should deserve such big attention. Stopping clock-changing is something which many citizens seem to agree with; however Europe clearly faces many other, bigger and more urgent challenges than this.”

President Juncker’s full speech and supporting documents and proposals of the European Commission were published here.

Picture: European Commission President Juncker addresses the European Parliament © European Union, 2018